Letter from Tokyo

Fr. Peter Milward, SJ,who teaches English literature atSophia University in Tokyo, writes hereaboutlast week'searthquake and its aftermath:

Ive become reasonably accustomed to swaying after fifty-five years in Japan, where small earthquakes are fairly common. But this was different. It wasnt the gentle movement I was accustomed to. It was something I had never experienced, whether here in Japan or back in England. Books and papers began falling all around me, and I remained lying there motionless, waiting for the movement to stop. But for a long time it didnt stop. When it finally did, I got up and surveyed my room, which was a complete mess. Two bookshelves had fallen over, spilling their contents. I left my room to explore the rest of the Jesuit house where I live. Along the way, I quickly learned two facts about the earthquake. One was that here in Tokyo it had registered a magnitude of 5.5 on the Richter scale, whereas the strongest I had ever experienced in this land of earthquakes had been little over 4. The other was that at the epicenter of the quake, off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, the magnitude had been 8.8. That was indeed something, more than any of us had thought possible, even in Japan.

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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